"How are you?" said Mr. Flint, as curtly as the barest politeness allowed. "What was the matter with your own horse, Victoria?"
"Nothing," she replied, after an instant's pause. Austen wondered many times whether her lips had trembled. "Mr. Vane asked me to drive with him, and I came. Won't--won't you come in, Mr. Vane?"
"No, thanks," said Austen, "I'm afraid I have to go back to Ripton."
"Good-by, and thank you," she said, and gave him her hand. As he pressed it, he thought he felt the slightest pressure in return, and then she fled up the steps. As he drove away, he turned once to look at the great house, with its shades closely drawn, as it stood amidst its setting of shrubbery silent under the moon.
An hour later he sat in Hanover Street before the supper Euphrasia had saved for him. But though he tried nobly, his heart was not in the relation, for her benefit, of Mr. Crewe's garden-party.
Those portions of the biographies of great men which deal with the small beginnings of careers are always eagerly devoured, and for this reason the humble entry of Mr. Crewe into politics may be of interest. Great revolutions have had their origins in back cellars; great builders of railroads have begun life with packs on their shoulders, trudging over the wilderness which they were to traverse in after years in private cars. The history of Napoleon Bonaparte has not a Sunday-school moral, but we can trace therein the results of industry after the future emperor got started. Industry, and the motto "nil desperandum" lived up to, and the watchword "thorough," and a torch of unsuspected genius, and "l'audace, toujours l'audace," and a man may go far in life.
Mr. Humphrey Crewe possessed, as may have been surmised, a dash of all these gifts. For a summary of his character one would not have used the phrase (as a contemporary of his remarked) of "a shrinking violet." The phrase, after all, would have fitted very few great men; genius is sure of itself, and seeks its peers.
The State capital is an old and beautiful and somewhat conservative town. Life there has its joys and sorrows and passions, its ambitions, and heart-burnings, to be sure; a most absorbing novel could be written about it, and the author need not go beyond the city limits or approach the state-house or the Pelican Hotel. The casual visitor in that capital leaves it with a sense of peace, the echo of church bells in his ear, and (if in winter) the impression of dazzling snow. Comedies do not necessarily require a wide stage, nor tragedies an amphitheatre for their enactment.